Early-Life Stress Is Associated with Gender-Based Vulnerability to Epileptogenesis in Rat Pups
Freezing injury to the cortical plate of rats induces cerebrocortical microgyria and, in males but not females, a shift toward greater numbers of small neurons in the medial geniculate nucleus (MGN). The purpose of the current study was to examine a hormonal basis for this sex difference. Cross-sectional neuronal areas of the MGN were measured in male rats, untreated female rats and female rats treated perinatally with testosterone propionate, all of which had received either neonatal cortical freezing or sham injury. Both male and androgenized female rats with microgyria had significantly smaller MGN neurons when compared to their sham-operated counterparts, whereas untreated females with microgyria did not. These differences were also reflected in MGN neuronal size distribution: both male and androgenized female rats with microgyria had more small and fewer large neurons in their MGN in comparison to shams, while there was no difference in MGN neuronal size distribution between lesioned and sham females. These findings suggest that perinatal gonadal steroids mediate the sex difference in thalamic response to induction of microgyria in the rat cortex.